SeaWorld San Diego is caring for a young adult sea lion that was rescued from a La Jolla beach with a gunshot wound to the head. The 275-pound male sea lion was shot at close range earlier this month, but is expected to recover from his injuries and be released back into the wild soon.
“The person that shot him was definitely intending to kill him,” said SeaWorld Senior Animal Care Specialist Heather Ruce.
Ruce said SeaWorld picked up the sea lion—now named Buck—on Oct. 5 near the La Jolla Cove. At the time, SeaWorld thought Buck had a severe bite injury to his face, but soon realized the injury was a result of a shotgun blast at close proximity.
Dr. Hendrik Nollens, a veterinarian at SeaWorld, said Buck is not the first marine mammal with gunshot wounds rescued from this area of La Jolla in the past few weeks. Nollens said another sea lion was found with gun shot wounds to his body a few weeks back. Unfortunately, that sea lion passed away due to other health complications.
Buck is doing well recovering at SeaWorld. He is eating and taking all of his antibacterial medications, although he did lose his right eye.
“Sea lions are very crafty. They adapt very quickly. They learn techniques very quickly… even with one eye he will be catching fish again,” said Dr. Nollens.
SeaWorld will release Buck when they feel he is wounds have healed enough to ward off risk of infections.
“His outlook is good and the plan is definitely to return him to the wild,” said Nollens.
SeaWorld has reported both incidents of gunshot wounds to sea lions to the La Jolla area have been reported in accordance to the Marine Animal Protection Act, according to SeaWorld.
Also read: Federal Authorities Investigate Two Sea Lions Shot Near La Jolla
Please keep your distance from distressed or injuries marine mammals. If you see a distress or injured marine mammal call 1-800-541-SEAL or notify nearby lifeguards or police.